“We have eyes, and we’re looking at stuff all the time, all day long. And I just think that whatever our eyes touch should be beautiful, tasteful, appealing, and important” --- Eric Carle

Books fill Marybeth Pacilio’s heart, classroom and curriculum. During this year’s study -- “All About Picture Books: Explorations in Art, History and Philosophy” -- students are encouraged to embrace and appreciate the smell, feel, purpose, and importance of an actual book.

Beginning with bookbinding, students explore books as objects, and contemplate producing a personal vessel for a story they wish to tell. The class studies all aspects of the wordless picture book to understand inferences and deep thought, as well as what makes a great picture book and story. Marybeth notes that the picture book is accessible to all ages so both early readers and more sophisticated ones can experience the same book in remarkably distinct ways. Students also might interpret a familiar story (like “Hansel and Gretel”) without words, leading to a greater awareness of how composition – color and shapes – are evocative of feelings.

By bringing in an historical component (e.g. the history and evolution of children’s literature), the class learns how and why stories are told and re-told.  As they investigate Caldecott Book Award winners to glean a sense of the criteria necessary for an impactful picture book, the class analyzes the importance of evaluative standards...having an idea, forming an opinion, and defending it provides a powerful mechanism to do other work.

Within the dynamic curriculum, the pulse and interests of the group guide the course of potential projects. These might include a writing celebration of published works, a research study of an individual author, participation in a maker’s fair, or the development of their very own criteria for judging the merit of a picture book to establish a “Hayground Children’s Book Award.”  

Through a comprehensive examination of the wordless story, Middle Group learners are able to construct their own literary vehicle and find their own voice, all while nurturing a lifelong love of books.

Past/ Current book projects:

  •  Memoirs In Objects and Images
  • Matchbox Haiku
  •  A Wordless retelling of Hansel and Gretel

Original fiction published in hand stitched books:

  • The Whole Wide World
  •  Neo and Winnie's Magical Adventure
  • Tales of Mike the Pilot
  • Can You Hear the Water Drip?
  • Midnight
  • Just Another Teenage Story
  • Welcome to my World
  • Sea of Air
  • The Strange Dog